New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday said it was for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to consider any representation by Ajay Jadeja to reconsider its decision to ban him from playing cricket for five years. "Jadeja wants to make representation that he was not heard by the BCCI and the CBI (before taking a decision against him). In case he makes the representation, it is open to the BCCI to consider it," a division Bench comprising Justice Anil Dev Singh and Justice Madan B Lokur said.
The direction was issued by the court while admitting for hearing an appeal by the BCCI against a single Bench order rejecting its plea questioning the maintainability of Jadeja's writ petition challenging the ban order. Jadeja's counsel P P Malhotra said BCCI had imposed the ban on his client "arbitrarily" without giving him a chance to explain his position on the CBI report on match-fixing scandal. "Even the CBI had not heard Jadeja before submitting its report to the government," Malhotra claimed. A single judge Bench of Justice Mukul Mudgal, in an interim order on September 17, had rejected BCCI and its former president A C Muthiah's objection on maintainability of Jadeja's plea, challenging the ban order. However, the division Bench on Thursday declined to stay the order of single judge Bench, which has fixed further hearing on Jadeja's petition for November 19. BCCI counsel K K Venugupal challenged the single judge's order on the ground that the "BCCI is not an instrumentality of the state and, therefore, no writ under Article 226 of the Constitution lies against it". The division Bench said since the appeal has raised the issue whether BCCI is an instrumentality of the state or not, it needs to be examined. "We will examine it," the Bench said. Venugopal focused his arguments on the High Court's earlier decision in Mohinder Amarnath's case, in which a division Bench had held that the Board is not an instrument of the state. He said the relations between BCCI and players were purely based on contractual liability against each other. If the Board intended to terminate the contract, it could be challenged through a civil writ because the remedy for that lies through a civil suit, he argued. The court, however, said the single judge Bench in its order had not given any finding that BCCI is an instrument of the state. It had only said the issue had to be decided after hearing the parties on merit, it observed. Justice Mudgal in his order had said, "When the government lets a body like BCCI assume the prerogative of being a sole representative of India for cricket by permitting it to choose the team for appearance in events like World Cup, then it necessarily imbues the Board with public function... so far as the regulation of the game is concerned. "The question whether the court should interfere in the facts of the present case, is to be decided in light of tests laid down by the Supreme Court on writ jurisdiction." Extras: Post your views